Friday, May 22, 2015

WILLOW SPRAGUE, DAUGHTER OF DOVE WINNER BILLY SPRAGUE, RELEASES DEBUT RADIO SINGLE

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (May 19, 2015) - Willow Sprague, daughter of beloved multi-Dove Award winning recording artist and worship leader Billy Sprague, is set to release her very first radio single, "Overflow." The second single from Billy Sprague's latest musical project,Songs in the Key of Awe,"Overflow" goes for adds today through A-Sides Radio Promotion.

Willow illuminates this tender, vertically-directed prayer for anointing with her fresh and inviting alto voice, making it keenly personal, yet open and inviting. With its lilting cadence and wistful lyrics, "Overflow" is equal parts intimate prayer and corporate worship. 

"This song created one of the high points of my life," says proud papa, Billy Sprague, "to see and hear my daughter deliver her heart and musical gift in the studio like she was born for it. On our cross-country move to Florida in August of 2014, we spent four days recording in Nashville. Willow stood at the mic and delivered every day, spectacular background vocals on half a dozen songs and two lead vocals. During the final days of recording, "Overflow" was the pinnacle of the week - and a Mount Everest experience for me. As you listen, I think you will hear what I mean, and be moved to make this song your own prayer."

"Overflow" is available on Billy Sprague's CD, Songs in the Key of Awe, which is distributed by Elevate Entertainment. For more information about Willow Sprague, "Overflow," Billy Sprague and Songs in the Key of Awe, visit billyspraguemusic.com

About Willow Sprague:
At just 17, Willow Sprague has been around music and music makers her entire life. The daughter of Dove Award winning songwriter and recording artist Billy Sprague, she has had a front row seat on the music life, how songs are written and recorded and the art of live performance.

At age 11, she formed the vocal group Harmony Park with three friends in Denver. Together they performed hymns and pop songs and even sang the national anthem for NBA fans at several Denver Nuggets basketball games. The talented pre-teens caught the attention of America's Got Talent, which flew them to Atlanta to perform on the popular TV show, and two years later they brought 5,000 people to their feet in front of the X-Factor judges in Kansas City. 

Willow's captivating voice adds harmonies and background vocals to many of the songs onSongs in the Key of Awe, her dad's recently released worship project. She adds background vocals to many of the songs on the CD and shines on lead vocal on two titles: "Overflow," her first CCM radio single, and "Only Jesus" a modern, Celtic-like hymn. 

Willow lives with her parents, her two younger brothers, Wyatt and Sawyer and their dog she named, Lucy Loo Hoo, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Art of Losing Yourself
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Katie Ganshert


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

My Thoughts:
The sliver of hope needed a date with the tweezers.”  (p.261)

Gracie’s sentiment at this point in the story echoes most of her life up until that moment.  Gracie is a very broken, angry, rebellious teen, and she is tired of fighting for every breath, every opportunity to have a normal teenage life…for just a moment!  Her life is hard.  Her sister, Carmen, seems to have been able to find “normal” in her life – a successful career, a husband, a purpose – but she is fighting her own demons, and neither she nor her marriage may survive the onslaught of battle.  When these two sisters attempt life together, they have even harder choices to face.  Nothing gets easier.  Rather, they must face death and, ultimately, life together – together with a God who seems to have abandoned them to their brokenness.

The Art of Losing Yourself is one of the most profoundly honest books I’ve read in quite some time.  The characters are realistic and their lives bear the scars of trying to do life alone – outside the love and grace of a God who loved them and gave His life to redeem theirs.  These two young women are strangers to that love and grace, and their journey of discovery is rather brutal.  Many, if not all, readers will identify with one or more of their struggles – their questions – their fears – their doubt.  Their conclusions at the end of the story are equally realistic and transformational.


Settle in with this story.  Abide with the characters and walk alongside them in their struggles.  You will be very, very glad you did!  This isn’t an easy read sometimes, but it is definitely worth every moment you will spend reading!  I highly recommend this novel!   

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Art of Losing Yourself, go HERE.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shadow of the Mountain by Cliff Graham - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Caleb and Joshua Roar to Life in this High-Impact Old Testament Saga

Two men were brave enough to tell the truth about what awaited the Hebrews in Canaan. This is their story. From the slave pits of Egypt to the efforts of an eighty-five-year-old Caleb as he drives out the last of the giants, Shadow of the Mountain is a vivid portrait of two of God's chosen champions, and a meditation on masculine mentorship and the challenges and blessings of growing older.

For the sake of his new God and his loyalty to his friend Joshua, Caleb will not spend his twilight years resting, but taking the battle to the enemies of God's people until his dying breath. From his early days as a mercenary for Pharaoh in Egypt watching the Hebrews suffer under the yoke of slavery, all the way through a desperate fight with giants in the dark forests of the hill country, this is a story filled with epic battles, gritty intensity, and supernatural events that made Graham's Lion of War series a hit. Shadow of the Mountain is sure to ignite a love for the Old Testament in popular culture.

My Thoughts:
The Lord our God controls even Pharaoh’s heart.  Not just his light or his cattle.”  (p. 238)

To hear Caleb share the story of the Israelite’s deliverance from Egypt is a thrilling and unsettling experience.  Cliff Graham delivers that exact experience to the readers through Caleb’s eyes – one who was a decorated soldier in Pharaoh’s army before he turned his heart in worship to the One True God.   First, I challenge you to read what the Bible has to say of Caleb.  That, in itself will astound  you!   Then read Graham’s story and your heart will be touched anew about God’s wondrous ways – how He chooses His people and draws them unto Himself time and time again.

To be a warrior in this time in history was brutal.  To be someone whose village/city/kingdom was attacked by these warriors is brutal.  In short, the word warrior is something that has become unfamiliar to us in the 21st century – at least by Biblical standards.  Caleb’s account of God’s hand brining His people out of Egypt is chilling.  I’m still amazed more than ever at the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart toward God!  That, is even more chilling!

I also loved the way the younger men came to Caleb thirsty to hear the words of his story from his lips, and then to learn how that gave them renewed purpose to follow Caleb into battle.  To grow old in Caleb’s time was not an easy task!  He remained a warrior to the end of his days.  I think this is another thing Graham wants his readers to hear – a call to be a follower of God no matter what your age!  This is a thrilling and humbling reminder of God’s holiness and power.  It is also a challenge to rise up and serve God in the strength courage only He can provide!
About the Author:

Cliff Graham is a former soldier and officer in the United States Army who now spends his time writing, speaking, and operating a growing series of media franchises. A graduate from Black Hills State University with degrees in political science and military science, he wrote his Lion of War series while working as a youth pastor. He currently lives in the mountains of Utah with his wife, Cassandra, and their children, and speaks to churches, men's groups, and conferences all over the United States. He can be found online at www.cliffgraham.com

Friday, May 15, 2015

Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families - Jennifer Shaw - REVIEWED

About the songs:
This album includes 30 word-for-word Scripture memory songs (NIV) plus 9 bonus Christian-themed kids songs! These songs were all developed for use in a Vacation Bible School curriculum for Faith Covenant Church in Westerville, OH. Each of the mini-albums is for a different year with a different themed play. There are five Scripture songs per year, one for each day of VBS, plus bonus theme songs and roll calls for the classes. The Scripture songs are all word for word from either the 1984 or the 2011 New International Version (NIV) of the Bible and include the references. They have since been used by Sunday schools, Christian schools, other VBS programs, homeschoolers, and families, and we hope they are a blessing to you too!

My Thoughts:
What’s not to like?!  This is God’s Word placed to music!!  Jennifer Shaw has a beautiful voice, and she can work in a variety of styles easily and with much heart!  There are smooth grooves, do-wop, jazz, reggae….a total mix of sounds!  The scripture verses are groups in general categories, and apparently served as VBS themes at some time in the past.  Each group of scriptures songs has a sort of bridge that states the overall truth being presented in each verse.

I’ve always been able to retain songs easily, and to put Scripture to great tunes totally works for my brain!  A lot of kids have this same memory learning skill, so I think it’s brilliant to put God’s Word to music!  Jennifer Shaw has even figured out a way to place the reference at the end of each verse!  There are also times when she repeats key phrases that states the foundational truth in the verse several times.


I love Jennifer’s  voice, (I reviewed her first release) and I am pleased to know God is continuing to use her to spread the truth of His gospel to children and adults so effectively!  I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who leads children’s ministry!  A treasure!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Wood's Edge by Lori Benton - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Wood's Edge
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Lori Benton


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Benton spent her late teens and early twenties pursuing a career as a wildlife artist, attending the Maryland College of Art & Design before she began painting professionally. When not writing or researching, Lori can be found exploring the mountains of southern Oregon with her husband, Brian. Lori's first novel, Burning Sky was nominated as an ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award Finalist and also received double nominations for 2014 Christy Awards. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is her second novel.



ABOUT THE BOOK

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

My Thoughts:
You have crucified yourself, but that work will never be finished….It cannot be.  You are not Christ.” 
(p. 353)

Lydia’s declaration here, at this point in Lori Benton’s novel, The Wood’s Edge, captures the very essence of the lives of the characters in this story.  They have all lived on the edge of the truth.  Until grace, mercy and forgiveness capture their hearts, they crucify themselves anew to keep a secret hidden for more than two decades.  What a beautiful, brutal journey toward forgiveness is captured in these pages!

Honestly, the premise that the entire story hinges upon is a detail few would consider for more than a moment when you consider the war that raged between the French and Indian people….and then between the British and the newly-formed  America.  Many people were lost during that time – lost to their loved ones for a myriad of reasons.  Lori Benton weaves an intricate story among the lives of her characters.  She does it so seamlessly, that by the time you reach the end, and the main characters have grown up right before your eyes….well, let’s just say if you don’t bawl your eyes out, then you truly have a heart of stone.


Your tears will reflect awe, sadness, loss, joy, tender love…so many emotions!  Whether you are a parent, an adult child of a parent who has loved you  well, or someone who appreciates a true romance that blossoms in a very difficult circumstance your heart will be profoundly moved by this story!  Share it with those you love!  Read it time and time again as you wait for the next story in this most excellent series!!  WOW!! Such an amazing story!!

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Wood's Edge, go HERE.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker - REVIEWED - Coming next week!! May 19, 2015!!



About the Book:
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her. 

My Thoughts:

I plead free.”  (p. 248)

Arianna Carlton’s words, in this moment, were the most powerful words spoken to me as I read Rachelle Dekker’s debut novel, The Choosing.  Carrington Hale, the protagonist in this futuristic tale, is also profoundly affected by Arianna’s words.  For her, these words become the catalyst of significant change in her life.  She must choose between the truth and the illusion she has believed as truth.  To discern between them could cost her very life.

Rachelle Dekker takes readers into a plausible futuristic society.  People throughout history have always preferred the illusion of safety by blindly placing their faith in others who will make the hard decisions for them, and spare them the perceived danger of placing their faith in an unseen God who loves them just as they are.  Rigid laws trump the love of God time and time again.  It was the rigid law of the land that sent Jesus to the cross.  Dekker builds on this fact of the human condition and takes her characters on a precarious journey through rigid laws to a place of freedom.

Freedom comes in knowing who you are in Christ.  Dekker presents this truth in a way that an unbeliever will grasp and that will challenge believers in their own faith journey.  This is a brilliant debut novel  that introduces readers to an exciting and thought-provoking new author.


Like Arianna – I plead free!! AMEN!!

About the Author:
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair. Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.





Monday, May 11, 2015

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason - REVIEWED



About the Book:
She'll defend her friend until the bitter end--but is she in over her head?
It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe. 

Lynette Eason delivers nonstop action as Jackie and Ian travel a dangerous road--one that may lead straight to destruction.

My Thoughts:
You know how I am about riddles and puzzles.”   (p. 57)

Such an innocent statement about an email that ultimately causes Ian Lockwood and Jackie Sellers to be running for their very lives!  Honestly, Lynette Eason has ramped up the speed on her latest release, No Place to Hide, to a ridiculous level!! I mean that in the most amazing, complimentary way!!  You just can’t read fast enough!

What thrills me to pieces is that no one goes unscathed in this story!  Eason keeps the very real human element raw and transparent throughout the novel, but she also weaves all of those broken pieces into a beautiful mosaic of God’s sovereign love for His children!  Even Jackie’s best friend’s young daughter doesn’t miss out on this lesson in grace!  Phenomenal how she weaves so many story lines together!

I think what impresses me most is that every single character has a plausible reason to do or not do the things they do within the context of the novel.  The sheer amount of twists and turns will keep you up at night!  Bioterrorism?  Well, who on earth could be responsible?!  Hidden in plain sight with a totally plausible reason to consider their actions to be justified!   AND…both Ian and Jackie face death multiple times and in very scary ways that….well, didn’t I mention, this story will keep you up at night?!

You just will be blown away!  I just keep thinking Eason cannot keep coming up with so many, many ways to keep us on the edge of our seats, but I do believe she’s outdone herself yet again!!  When you see Lynette Eason’s name on the cover, you can rest assured you will be well-entertained and left satisfied with a believable outcome!  BRAVO!!!  BRAVO!!!

About the Author:
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust,Nowhere to Turn, and No Place to Hide in the Hidden Identity series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.